Okay, so that <3 thingy doesn't work so well when you're using bad-assed web typography. Still. If you've followed Bitch magazine over the years (and if you haven’t, you need to start, like, yesterday), you know they’ve had pretty consistent financial struggles. Unfortunately, that’s just part of the reality that most small-to-medium-to-not-gargantuan print media find themselves in.
Bitch needs your help again.
Lemme offer up two reasons why Bitch is near and dear to me. First, I’m a writer. (And by extension, I’m a reader.) Bitch is one of the reasons why. I’ve been fortunate to have some amazing people encourage me to share my writing, but even before that started happening, I met Bitch at my local feminist bookstore.
Ninety-six pages of smart writing about things that I cared about were waiting for me inside. Holy crap, there were people writing about things I had actually been thinking about for months. Television! Music! That asshole on the bus who keeps staring at me! Better yet, most of the writers were women. A lot of them were young, like me. Some of them were huge queers. Hooray!
I have no idea how many other writers Bitch has inspired over the years, let alone how many it might in the future. And for those of us who are writing, Bitch is an important outlet. My friends need bread and readers, yo.
And let’s be frank, print media matters. I loves me some Internet. I loves me some Internet comment threads. This ‘net is where I took a lot of my baby steps towards learning about feminism. But there’s something nice about a deliberate, finally-honed column that’s wrapped up in a neat little package with dozens of other essays. It just stares at you. It challenges you. And if you want to continue the conversation, you’re going to have to get up off your ass, pick up your pen and write a thoughtful response of your own.
There’s a second reason I’ve got a soft spot for Bitch. I read Bitch right about the time when I was coming out as trans (and lesbian, and a woman). Bitch was a lifeline. I mean, I don’t know if you’ve ever come out as trans, and/or LGB, but that shit gives you a lot to process. I mean, before I came out, I had to wrestle with some serious Gender Studies 101, all while contemplating dropping some serious tuition on the 599 level course. In the pages of Bitch, I saw other folks doing the same. There’s a reason I carried this magazine with me wherever I went.
Before I came out to my relatives, my sister noticed that my dog-eared, wrinkled copy of the latest edition of Bitch.
“Wait, you read Bitch?!”
She wandered off, only to return a few minutes later with a stack of back issues. It was there that I first encountered Julia Serano. Whoa.
Regularly reading Bitch became almost a rite of passage for me. I remember venturing out to the local zine fest, still very, very much not passing. I still remember getting to have then editor Lisa Jervis sign my copy of Bitchfest (which at the time was my preferred on-bus reading). I wasn’t just impressed that she and everyone at the reading were completely non-interested that this awkward trans woman was hanging out, straining to hear every word. I was impressed that there were other people. There were others. Holy fuck, I wasn’t alone in being pissed off at the assholes on the street who told me to smile, or the constantly judged me on the basis of what I happened to be wearing.
I can’t imagine coming of age without Bitch. I can’t, because I didn’t. I get it that new media is the future, and that we’re all broke and/or raising money for :cough: our own causes. I also get it that there are too many independent bookstores, and magazines, and authors to possibly support each and every one of them. If I could, I’d totally buy an island where all the feminist word nerds in the world could live for free while we work on our books and talk shit about the state of TV these days. For now, I’m only able to renew the subscription I let slip through the cracks as I clamped down on my spending. It’s a start.